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[ᆍ] New duds n' new name, first.
- [℁] Girl who? No, just this here young lady what showed up.
(Play at low or medium volume.)
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/f5M3R2WvFQk ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=f5M3R2WvFQk ]
The Baroness in Blue-gray Tartan sees all, knows all, and tells little. In her two-cubit-by-four-cubit empire, she is a god.
A supplicant approaches.
"Single for the twenty-four-o'clock to Mictlan, please. One-way."
Only she possesses the power to grant the wishes of those who approach her demesne, and she does not hand it out freely.
"Oooh. Heading somewhere fancy tonight, are we?"
The supplicant is surveyed. Examined. Scrutinized. Judged. The fairy in his tailored suit permits himself a chuckle in the face of the Baroness' overwhelming aura.
"Heh, not exactly. I always come back to see the family during the Feast, but I can't leave my desk empty for too many days."
A common story from a common being. Nothing here arouses the ire or suspicion of the Baroness in Blue-gray Tartan. The proclamation is made: He shall be permitted travel.
"Oooooh, I hear you there. Forty juliène? ...Here you go, sir."
He offers his humble gratitude and goes along to the Station that lies beyond her lands, leaving the Baroness alone in her domain once more.
...The night shift sucks. Pays well, definitely. But it suuuuucks.
More wayfarers come to stand before her. A pair, actually.
"Hi there. Could we get a pair of..." As if sensing the look his companion is giving him, the demon glances at the woman next to him. A pair of small silver end-caps on her forward-swept horns catch the lamplight for a moment. "...A pair of tickets for a single first-class cabin on the Pandemonium Limited?"
Newlyweds, these. Or perhaps not yet even that.
"Oh my. ...And is that one-way, or round-trip?"
The question catches him off guard, but his companion does not falter. "Round trip, if you would," she says.
Looking deep within their souls, the Baroness finds nothing out of the ordinary for such folk as these. Excitement. Nervousness. Giddiness. All is as it should be. And so it was proclaimed: They shall pass.
"Right, then! Eighty-five juliène, please. ...Have fun~"
The Baroness finds discontent within her as the couple depart. There was a time when that was her, or so she thought. A fun little fling in the end that lasted only a decade, and then that prancing bastard dropped her for some cataboligne tart—
"Hi, um. When's the next train to Pandemonium?"
The Baroness carefully conceals her shock and surprise at the sudden appearance of someone before her. And to make matters worse, the intruder is some grubby onje.
The onje is quite an unattractive sight. Ratty-looking clothes, guilty-looking yellow eyes, hair an unattractive shade of green and thrown into an unkempt ponytail, clutching tightly a knapsack of human make that had seen better days. She exudes nervousness. The Baroness detests her already.
"Oh! Th-that's great. Great, awesome. Uh, how much... is it?"
She can see the gaze of the onje flicking back and forth between the maps just beyond the outermost walls of the empire, and the timetables just behind her throne. Likely illiterate as well. But such is the common misfortune of her kind.
"Thirty juliène. And your papers, please."
The standard rate is twenty-five. But she does not need to know of the complexities involved, as they would surely only confuse her. The onje offers that sum in tribute along with her identification papers.
"H-here you go. Thanks."
Although the Baroness makes a show of carefully inspecting each page, a being as skilled and adept as she needs only ensure the validity of the travel license and confirm that the name and appearance of the onje does not match any known wanted criminals.
"...I really like the festival you all got here."
The laws and edicts that mandate this do, in truth, also require that she verify such things are true of all people purchasing tickets. However, a wise ruler knows when to apply the rules and when to use her own judgment.
"Yes, the Feast is nice."
Conversation with onje is hardly a task for one engaged in important examination of sensitive material. But the patience of the Baroness is vast and forgiving, and so she spares her some words. Wisely, the onje falls silent after this, but does not calm herself at all. Worse still, she does not appear to be amongst the wanted.
"All in order. You may have these back. And your ticket."
With a heavy heart, the Baroness decides that the onje is allowed to pass. She returns the papers and passes her the ticket.
The Baroness lets out a sigh. What a miserable fate this shift is. Really, if you look at it, it's quite tragic: her, locked up in here while everyone out there gets to party and have fun... Even a vagrant like that! Goddess, the unfairness of it all. The tragedy!
She sees the newcomers approaching, this time. Two, most likely not together.
"How... how are you, ma'am. I'm'a'd like to buy a. The. Uh."
A girl dressed in a fine but slightly disheveled dress rests her weight against the little counter that stands beneath the Great Glass Wall that divides the Baroness' empire from the basest of lands beyond. She sways fractionally, but smiles widely.
"The... uh... Servant's tits, where am I going? It's the nnnname of the train. It's got the name of the train. Right on the train."
The Baroness grants hospitality to all who come before her. Thus, she must endure even meetings such as this. Of course, after an onje, even a drunk becomes acceptable.
"Mmm... The Cape Hob Comet?"
"The Lemega Express, then?"
"The Occidas Direct?"
"Yeaaaahhh~ That's my train."
The fee is exchanged for a writ of passage, and the woman is mercifully on her way in no time at all. As soon as she departs, the other approaches. Indeed, this hat and wingtips just visible over the bottom lip of the wall are not traveling with the inebriated fairy, apparently.
"How ya findin' this evenin', miss?"
How dare he! Too short to even be seen, and he presumes to speak before the Baroness has a chance to address him?! Does he not know she has had people flogged for less?
"Ha ha ha. Well, it's long as always. Where might you be headed, sir?"
To show outrage is to show that she is less than befitting of her station, and this simply would not do.
"Out to Sanjiva, darlin'. Business is callin', so Carlescu's goin'. You know how it is."
She does not. But when he offers the precise payment even before being prompted, she does admit to herself that not needing to make change is pretty nice. The hat and wing tips are given passage, and so she is left with her thoughts once more.
Just two more days. Two more days, and the Baroness' evenings will be hers again to do with as she pleases. However, carrying out these grand duties comes before frivolity. Such is the way of the world.
If only she didn't have to hear the faintest sounds of celebration from beyond the wall. In sight, in reach... yet not.
A smoke-grey bird alights before her.
The lower half is a pair of fairly standard legs in light trousers, but the upper half is very large, and very avian. With its beak, it sets a note before her with but a single word written upon it:
"Bardo? It leaves in four hours. One-way or round-trip?"
It twirls a feathered wing around.
"Very good, then. Thirty-six juliène, if you please."
It ducks its head under its wing feathers, and rummages around in... somewhere. But a second later, it reemerges with the fee in its beak. The Baroness accepts the tribute, pronounces her benevolent judgement in its favor, and gives it her blessing.
Only the lowest and most foul would interfere with one of the Não-Desee. Whatever thoughts the Baroness might have about others, few in the land would speak ill of or do wrong to those poor things.
The same could not be thought about all who walk the red soil of Makai, of course. And several people later, there arrived before her a perfect example of this.
"A fine evening to you, madam. Are there tickets available still on the Occidas Direct?"
The Baroness' jaws clench. An onje, speaking like that to one such as she? As if she were a peer?
As she examines them with a more critical eye, she begins to see where they picked up the notion that this would be acceptable. The onje is dressed... tidily, that much can be said. There's something odd about how the light strikes her hair. She's not standing in shadow, so it shouldn't be so difficult to tell what color it is. Something deep, dark—purple, maybe? Green? No, it must be blue; the red of night is only making it appear purple. That makes more sense.
"Oh, most wonderful! I would like one ticket, please. First-class."
...The Baroness, in her boundless mercy, accedes to the onje's plea.
And in order to expedite this, some details may happen to slip her mind, but nobody is perfect, of course. Onje thrive on surprises, cheap thrills and the like, do they not? How could the Baroness be at fault for only wishing to enrich this one's life that much more?
"Thank you ever so much, madam. I wish you a fine rest of the evening."
A most unlikely occurrence, to be sure.
When a sniffling, red-eyed demon girl comes before the Baroness but minutes afterward, she is much more thoughtful.
"Th-the ten-forty t-to... to Elysian Island, p-please. Sorry."
Thoughtful, but only in her thoughts. She does not question this one.
"Seventy-four juliène, dear."
The girl brushes the moss out of her eyes and offers her fee to the Baroness. A lonely place, that.
She leaves, and the Baroness sighs quietly. Lost love is a terrible thing. Lost love that went and got lost because it was hanging around with those a tramp from the low fields is even worse.
Whistling catches the Baroness' attention. Her head jerks up, fire on her tongue, but no, no. Just someone whistling to themselves. Not at her... though he is walking up.
"Quite a night, huh?"
The Baroness considers, for the four hundred and sixty-third time, putting forth a printed decree that addresses all who seek her favor, declaring that in her court, conversation is an ally to none.
"That's what I'm told. Are you looking to travel somewhere tonight, sir?"
Politeness above all else.
"There's some kinda hubbub with the Wa—oh, yeah, yeah. Sorry. Anything to Penumbra in the next couple hours?"
Sometimes, the Baroness felt more like a governess.
"Why yes. In about... forty-one minutes."
It could not even be said that the festival-hours compensation was truly inadequate. It sufficed. However, after factoring in all the intangibles, there was much that could be said to be lacking.
"Fantastic! One seat in coach, then."
He's trying to be friendly, of course. And one should be, before the Baroness. So she only hates him a little.
"Right away, sir. Thirty-one juliène."
Tribute is offered and accepted. He is allowed passage.
"Thanks truly. Don't work too hard in there!"
The Baroness decides to hate him a bit more.
[ ] Something Shaking
[ ] Something Still
I can't put anything clever in here, and I can't lie, either. Instead, I'll just ask for your forgiveness. Again.
And thank you.